The ocean covers 71% of earth’s surface and is fundamental to human life, providing essential services like oxygen production and climate regulation. Throughout human history the ocean has occupied myriad cultural meanings, mythologies and practices, which were often founded on a notion of the sea as being so large as to be immune to human impacts. However, these conceptions were grounded in observations from the surface or shoreline, and in time periods when human activities in the ocean were more technologically and spatially limited than they are today. Advancements in scientific methods and technologies have drastically altered how humans interact with and access the ocean, allowing exploration and exploitation of ocean areas and processes that were previously incomprehensible and unreachable. This new capacity to understand and extract from the ocean has profoundly altered human conceptions of it and relationships to it, often contradicting previously held beliefs. This thesis will explore several aspects of public understanding of and interaction with the ocean, and the different ways the ocean is valued. It will do this by analyzing responses to a survey created to evaluate values and different conceptions of the ocean. Focusing on how the public values the ocean is important, as values have been shown to directly relate to pro- environmental behavior. The utility of understanding values of the ocean will then be explored in a science communication context, analyzing the delivery of the creative component of this thesis, an exhibition on phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean titled Beneath the Blooming Ice.
Here is Ellen talking about one of her creative projects on the ABC radio show!